Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Goddess of the Week

This is the first time Arianrhod has come up. She is a Welsh Goddess Whose name means 'Silver Wheel' or 'Silver Disk'; She is usually interpreted as a Moon Goddess, but I tend to see Her more as a Star Goddess, since the Moon does not turn like a wheel, but the Stars do appear to. It is hard to tell, though, since what we know of Arianrhod is through the medieval Welsh collection of tales called the Mabinogion; for by the time it was written down the old stories of the Deities had been Christianized into fairy tales. Sure, there is plenty of magic and the supernatural in the Mabinogion, but the original Divinity of some of the characters does look to have been downgraded and hidden away.

In the Mabinogion Arianrhod is a candidate to be the foot-holder of Math, a position that one has to be a virgin to hold. When She is magically tested for said virginity by Her brother, the magician Gwydion, She immediately gives birth to twins, putting the lie to Her claim. One of them, Dylan, dives straight into the Sea; the other, Lleu, is a formless thing that Gwydion claims.

Arianrhod wants nothing to do with Lleu; so Gwydion brings Him up, periodically tricking Arianrhod into giving Her son what He can only be given by His mother; each time She is tricked, She heaps scorn upon the both of Them, accusing Gwydion of perpetuating Her shame at not being a virgin by throwing Her son in Her face.

But each time Her refusals are overcome through the magic and trickery of Gwydion, and Lleu gains a name, is armed, and even obtains a wife, the maiden Blodeuwedd, Whom Gwydion and Math create out of flowers. That, however, ends rather badly (see any of the previous posts on Blodeuwedd linked in the tag below).

That, at any rate, is the story in the Mabinogion.

Now, let's first get the family relationships straight. Arianrhod is the daughter of Dôn, Who is the Welsh Mother Goddess, the equivalent to the Irish Danu, the mother of the Sidhe or faery-people. She has (at least) four brothers: Gwydion, Gofannon, Amaethon, and Gilfaethwy. Their names represent some very fundamental skills, the sort of basic building blocks of civilization: Gwydion's name means 'Knowledge,' Amaethon's 'the Divine Ploughman,' and Gofannon's 'Smith.' (I was unable to track down the meaning of Gilfaethwy's name.) Math fab Mathonwy (Math son of Mathonwy) is Dôn's brother, Their uncle, Who, like Gwydion, is also a great magician.

Remember, the tale in the Mabinogion has been straightened up for a Christian audience, the probably Divinity of the players downgraded or glossed over. There are pieces missing. And so there is no outright mention of Who the father of Arianrhod's sons might be. And while it's tempting to go the route of 'well it must be an older virgin mother scenario that was hidden in a vast Christian anti-woman and anti-Goddess conspiracy' (and while I usually do tend to that), this time I don't think so.

The internal evidence, such as it is, points to Arianrhod's brother Gwydion being the father. Lleu is in fact called His 'son' in the tale, though perhaps this refers to His position as adopted son. (And, no, I am not just making this up; I am getting this from MacKillop's Dictionary of Celtic Mythology.) Now, in myth, incest is not the same as it is in reality, where it is a taboo, shameful, horrific thing; in myth, it can simply be a shorthand way of saying the pair are considered equals, in the way that Isis and Osiris, Freyja and Frey, and Hera and Zeus were sister and brother.

But by the time of the Mabinogion that's all been buried; and there is only the barest hint of incest. What we are left with, as explanation for Arianrhod's extreme anger towards Lleu, Her own son, is Her shame at being exposed as not a virgin.

It is hard to say. Nowadays that is not considered the end of the world, or even all that important, really; though, it's true, virginity (in women, of course) certainly was very much prized in some ancient societies. But something never quite rang true for me. That alone never felt like a good enough reason for Arianrhod's utter rejection and hatred of Her son.

But when I looked at Arianrhod as the victim of rape it all fell into place. (My version of Her tale is here.) Her hatred towards Lleu, Her own innocent child, then takes the place of Her anger at Her brother Gwydion, the powerful magician Whom She can not touch.

A modern feminist reading? Maybe. Though rape is certainly not a modern phenomenon, and I don't imagine that women, being human, have had vastly different experiences of it through the ages.

There is this, though:

In a related tale in the Mabinogion, Math's virginal foot-holder is one Goewin. Gilfaethwy, however, conceives a lust for Her, and with the help of brother Gwydion hatches a scheme and rapes Her while Math is away; when Goewin tells Math what Gilfaethwy did to Her, Math offers to marry Her, elevating Her to a position of honor as queen; He also punishes Gwydion and Gilfaethwy by transforming Them into a pair of beasts for three years. Each year one takes His turn being the female and bearing young; at the end of the three years They are considered punished enough. (I don't know if Goewin, however, thought it sufficient.)

This is the situation that necessitates Math finding a new virginal foot-holder, and which leads to Gwydion's suggestion that Arianrhod apply. On one level that doesn't even make sense: if Gwydion is the father of Arianrhod's twins, then for sure He must know She is not a virgin. Is He trying to punish or shame Her further? Or is it simply a detail that has not been thought through, some piece gone missing by the time it was written down in fairy-tale form?

I have always found the psychological analysis of fairy tales fascinating; the sort of thing Bruno Bettleheim did in The Uses of Enchantment. That way of figuring dips back into very primal, archetypal ideas. Wicked step-mothers are a way of splitting off bad behavior unacceptable in an actual mother; and mothers can be further split off into more than one character. (For example, in Hansel and Gretel, the wicked step-mother who hatches the plan to abandon the children and the cannibalistic witch in the bread house are the same figure at some level.)

I've really got no evidence for this, I suppose, beyond a hunch, but I suspect that Arianrhod and Goewin are in some ways different aspects of the same character. They are both foot-holders to Math (which is in itself a puzzling title or occupation; all it says is that Math had to have His feet in the lap of a beautiful and virginal young woman. I don't know what else it is implying); They are both entangled with Gwydion, Who obviously has no scruples when it comes to facilitating rape. I mean it's all been sort of made logical and fit into an actual, non-mythological timeline; but there is something moving around under the surface of the stories. I don't know; but I find it fascinating and disturbing.

So what does my long, rambling digression mean for the meaning of this card? I don't know. Let's just go back to the card itself, for a moment.

At very first glance, Arianrhod as a Star Goddess with Her back to the North Star would seem to fit quite well with the time of year up here in the northern hemisphere, with the winter solstice just past; the idea of north, the direction defined by the Earth's axis, and the still point in the whirling about of time, that moment when the sun is said to stand still before turning back the way it came. And that fits with the whirlwind cards that have been coming up lately, Oya and Kelaeno the Harpy. Though this time, the focus is on the still point, and maintaining yourself in that space while all is whirling about you; as ever, this time of the year is a good time to go inwards into the dark and the stillness.

But the dark is also where the fascinating and disturbing lives, the layers underneath, the meanings, concepts and motivations that cannot be approached by logic but must be intuited out. I would say try to spend some time there this week, feeling out old tales of your own; pay attention to dreams, especially, but also other stories and myths (both cultural and personal) that catch your eye. Something's up. On a very basic level the year has turned; look for evidence of that turning, of a shift in the current of the psyche's Sea which may bring formerly deep things towards the surface. I'm not sure what kind of specific advice to give; I think the point is that you will have to figure it out for yourself.

Let's see what She says:

I whirl but I am not dizzy. I am solid in myself, in my anger, in my knowedge that I am right. Deep in my bones I am I, myself, me, and I know it.

It is all panic and war-plans and lies when there is in fact peace. Shoemakers misusing their skills, all a plot, a plan, a surface shuffling about of colors. It does not affect the underlying story, the reality of it. Destiny is destiny, after all, and I am the Woman with my back to the Deep, the north star, the straight line, the center, the axis; there is no fooling me, no getting around the Fate I proclaim. And so the pretty flower-woman is Death in disguise, for my Son does not escape his destiny.

All is fate and spinning and round and round the center. Trying to keep track of the whirling is a waste of time and energy, though it may be pretty; find the center. You can admire it all from there without being caught up in it. It is much quieter, here, much more conducive to thought and contemplation, which is what you need right now.


What do you think?


The Mabinogion, translated by Gwyn and Thomas Jones

The Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, by James MacKillop

This isn't anything related to the Arianrhod tale, but it did get me thinking: a psychological analysis of maternal cannibalism in the Hansel and Gretel tale (as well as Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood) by Tracy Willard is here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Goddess of the Week

Al-'Uzza is a Goddess Who was held in high esteem by the pre-Islamic Arabs, especially those of the Quraysh tribe of the area around Mecca, who counted in their number one Mohammed, who would found the religion known as Islam. Her name means 'the Mighty One', and She was worshiped as a baetyl, or block of stone (carved or uncarved) in that area. She is closely associated with the Arabian Goddesses al-Lat (whose name means 'Goddess') and Manat ('Fate'); sometimes They are all called the daughters of al-Lah ('God').

According to the Kitab Al-Asnam, or Book of Idols, by Hisham Ibn-al-Kalbi (c. the 9th century CE) in Mecca the Quraysh would ritually circle the Ka'aba (a holy place long before the advent of Islam) and chant:

By Allat and al-'Uzza,
And Manat, the third idol besides.
Verily they are the most exalted females
Whose intercession is to be sought

Al-'Uzza was also an important Goddess to the Arabs up in Petra in modern Jordan; She may have been the main Goddess worshiped there. She is known to have had a major temple in that city, though which one is not known; the Greeks identified Her with their Aphrodite Ourania.

The relief on the little round tholos (temple-like structure) of the Khasneh in Petra is likely al-'Uzza; though it is much defaced, it shows a Goddess robed in the Greek style carrying a cornucopia and a patera. She is thought to be syncretized with both the Egyptian Isis and the Greek Tykhe, their Goddess of good fortune; in the Roman world the equivalent Goddess would be Fortuna. (The Romans incidentally linked Isis with Fortuna, worshiping Them in one as Isis-Fortuna.) Tykhe was also considered a protective Goddess of individual cities; though it is hard to make out, the Goddess in relief on the Khasneh may also wear Tykhe's turret crown as city guardian. This may mean She was considered the protective Goddess of Petra, one Who looks after the good fortune of the city.

At al-'Uzza's shrine in the Hurad valley not far from Mecca, visitors could receive oracles, presumably from the Goddess. She also had three acacia trees holy to Her there, which were cut down at Mohammed's command; according to legend, when the last was slated to be cut, an 'Abyssinian woman with disheveled hair' was found there in much distress. Mohammed's minion killed Her on the spot; the Prophet later remarked, 'That was al-'Uzza. But she is no more. ... Verily she shall never be worshipped again.' Well. I beg to differ.

Al-'Uzza is linked somewhat tenuously to the planet Venus as the morning star; I assume this is through the association the Greeks had with their Aphrodite Ourania, Aphrodite of the Heavens.

Calm and the level gaze, that small but bright Star of truth held in the corner of the eye; that's what I'm getting for the week ahead, the week that includes Christmas, not generally a calm one for most of us in the western world. There is a solidity, now, though, if you can tap into it; in some ways the low point of the year, the low point of the sun's cycle, that darkest, longest, night, is the most grounded time. This is the time of calm, and night, and the dark, and the sun going down down down into the dark, and then standing still for a moment as we all hold our breaths. Try to remember that, I think, in this busy busy week. That calmness is there, inherent to this time.

She says:

Fix your gaze on the light, on that little point, that Star; keep me in your sight. You need not always follow, but know I am there.

I am ally, friend, protectress, Powerful One. I guard, I prosper you, I amend you. I make you whole. I am pieces, myself. I am the scrub-tree in the desert, old and tough and beautiful beyond thought. I watch, I wait, I endure. I am still here. I am thorns and dry bark and fragrant bloom. I teach patience and strength. I win because I will wait.

I am the dry riverbed, the rain gleaned in the rock-cut channels. I am almost as old as Time; I am the uncut Stone.

Ask me; I hear you and I will answer. I am still the Mighty One.

What do you think?


There is quite a good article here on al-'Uzza (though it could use a bit of proofreading).

The Kitab Al-Asnam, or Book of Idols, by Hisham Ibn-al-Kalbi (737-819CE), English translation here. Be warned: though it's just the straight-up text from the 1952 translation by Nabih Amin Faris and appears perfectly reputable (I've seen the Book of Idols text linked from educational sites, for instance), the rest of the site is an evangelical Christian one. I'd advise not backing up into the main site of that one unless you've a stronger stomach than I do.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Tale of Fire and Ice

This is Mother's Night, the darkest of the year; and it all turns tomorrow. Here is another story for the dark. Turn, and turn:


Surrounded by the dark of the year, I am suddenly filled with longing; so I say to him, "Oh, I want a story."

He laughs. "Okay," he says, and with no more preamble than that begins:

"Once there was a woman called Aisa, whose hair was black as the Dark; but her skin was very pale, the color of ice, nearly. Like ice, too, were her eyes, which were a milky pale blue; and she was blind.

"But her blindness was of a peculiar variety, for, despite being without a doubt physically unable to see, she had an uncanny knack for maneuvering through the world, never tripping over or bumping into things. For she had the ability to see the Shadow World, that world which runs within and underneath our own. And she was greatly gifted in this Sight.

"But it made her a rather uncomfortable neighbor, and though she was quite pretty in a Gothic sort of way, people avoided her, if only because she tended to stare at the space next to them during conversations.

"Not that she was much of a conversationalist, really, all told; and so she lived, quite alone, in a little house on the top of a hill, and did not have much congress with others.

"And one day Aisa found herself pregnant."

I raise my eyebrows; though having finally learned not to interrupt him when he's telling a story, I don't say a word. He shakes his head. "When Ereshkigal gave birth, was there any talk of a father? No. This is like that. The child was hers, and hers alone.

"As her belly grew she drew into herself more and more, in fear, or in preparation; and the time came, as it will, when she felt the pains of labor.

"But it was like trying to give birth to a stone, and the pain and the blood were very great, enough that she feared for her own survival. But, finally, after a very difficult time, the baby was born. And it was dead.

"With great effort then she brought the baby, still covered in blood, to her breast. And she held it to her, though she could feel the warmth slowly going out of it, the warmth given it from her own body.

And as she held it there, worn out and weak, she passed entirely into the Shadow World."

He pauses, as the story stands still a moment; and I, knowing this, wait.

"After a time she woke, as it were, and opened her eyes; but though she was in the Shadow World, she could See little, for it was very dark.

"And Aisa was surprised, and frightened; for in all this time her Sight had never failed her. And she held still for quite some time, not knowing what to do.

"But then she remembered why she had come, or, at least, what she meant to do there; and she stood up, though she was truly blind for the first time in her life. And she resolved to find what she sought, the Soul of her daughter, who she knew had lost her way.

"But she could not See. And so she sang.

"She stood there in the dark and sang a song of warmth, a mother's song of comfort to her child, a calling-home song, a song of welcome and safety.

"But she was alone.

"She stood there in the dark and sang a song of light, a song of the starry way, a song of illumination and recognition, and the path found.

"But still she was alone.

"She stood there in the dark and sang a song of restoration, the Soul's song, a song of unity and wholeness, of longing and love.

"And she was not alone.

"For there beside her stood a woman, with hair red-gold as the sunrise. And but for the hair she was a mirror image of Aisa; 'Ah,' said Aisa, understanding.

"And she took her daughter's hand.

"Not long after Aisa found herself lying in bed, back in the living world; and at her breast she held her tiny newborn daughter, who, though weak and still covered with blood, was alive. And Aisa could See by the light about her that her daughter would live. And she named her Sivil, for the color of her hair.

"But Aisa could also See that she would not herself long survive the birth; and gathering up what strength she had, she bundled the baby up and took her outside, out into the night and the cold. And she set Sivil down on the ground.

"Then Aisa gathered up as much dry kindling as she could manage, which wasn't much. And she slowly leant it against the outside wall of her house, and took out tinder and flint; and with great care she made a fire.

"And when she was sure it had caught, she laid herself down, her body already growing cold; and she died.

"The townspeople, of course, when they saw the house burning, came to put it out; and so they found both the dead mother and the living daughter; and as Aisa had Seen, they called the baby Sivil, for she was found on a night of fire.

"The end."

"That's a pretty dark story," I say.

"It's what you needed to hear," he says softly.

"It always is," I say, and he nods.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pussycat Update

Well we took Sir Isaac Mewton in for an ultrasound very early yesterday morning in the freezing cold. Now who was it was talking about Mercury going into retrograde? That's when improbable disasters all pile up on top of each other with excruciatingly perfect bad timing, right? Because part of the way there the car decided to overheat. It's an old and familiar problem, with that car; it goes through coolant really quickly for some reason, though as far as we've ever been able to tell it doesn't leak. And, you know, with the cat being sick and all I forgot to check. Nevermind that I don't use that car all that often (being self-employed at home, so generally commute-less) and the thing had only had water put in it last time, not proper antifreeze.

But luckily I have a sibling who is good with cars; and miraculously enough when I called him he was awake and even more miraculously he agreed to bring some antifreeze. And he got there quickly and poured a bunch of stuff in and then he hopped in my car to keep an eye on things and I hopped in his car and we kept on going straight to the animal hospital.

When I got in his car there was a CD in the player. It was the Black Crowes. The song was Remedy. I nearly cried.

But when we got there the sibling told me that there was no heat in my car, which foretold bad things for the state of the heater core, like water had gotten in there and frozen the thing solid; as far as the cat went though we weren't even late, since the appointment was for 'between seven and eight am' and we'd gotten an early start; and Mewton was good and non-freaking out and the vet was very kindly. And as luck would have it there was a slot for the ultrasound right while we were there (they had originally planned to keep him there for a half day, which would have been an issue with a blinky car).

So the cat got his ultrasound; my brother left my car running to try to thaw the heater out, and he said he'd bring it back to his heated garage and drain the system out properly so he could put in all antifreeze.

So I'm trying to keep all these things in my head and then the vet comes out. Sir Isaac Mewton, it turns out, has pancreatitis, an inflamed pancreas, which is not necessarily good; however it is not a tumor, which is good. So it's his poor swollen pancreas which is crowding his bile ducts, not anything wrong with the ducts or his liver per se.

Now, the vet said most of the time they don't know what causes pancreatitis in cats; she said about a third of the time it's bacterial, though, so she gave me some antibiotics. And, she said, since he is still eating (though he's lost a little weight his appetite is still pretty good), she said we could bring him home, but that we would need to keep a very close eye on him. Any sign of going downhill and we are to bring him into the local vet's office quickly.

So. I am grateful: for siblings who know about Volvos and who don't grumble when called at 7:15am, though I know his schedule is about as vampiric as mine; for the fact that it turned out the car was okay and the heater core thawed and works fine now; for the fact that it is not a tumor; for the fact Mewton is eating well and looks perky enough; and I am absurdly grateful for Remedy, honestly. And I am very grateful to all of you for the kind thoughts and good energies sent his way. And to Bastet, Lady of the Salve.

So, here's a picture or two of Sir Isaac Mewton. In this one, without the flash, you can see he looks perfectly bright-eyed and decently healthy:

In the second one, though, with the flash on, you can get a better look at the clear-cut swath they had to shave so they could give him the ultrasound. Poor guy. It's kind of scary, though; the skin of a black cat is usually this nice sort of silvery grey. But though the color in the picture isn't exactly perfect, you can still see that his skin is a bit on the yellow side, because he has jaundice.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Help For Sir Isaac Mewton

My dear darling Sir Isaac Mewton has been feeling rather poorly lately. We took him to the vet today, where everything checked out okay save for a bit of telltale jaundice visible in his third eyelids (though the vet pointed out his gums were perfectly pink, meaning that whatever it is it is not very bad so far), meaning something's up with his liver. I believe that could be something very minor or the beginnings of something very nasty; I have so far resisted the urge to google 'cat liver jaundice disease' as that will not help anything and only make me feel worse. He is not very sick, at present, but enough that he is off his game, which is usually a very fine one indeed. They took blood today and I'm waiting on the results, which will come in tomorrow.

Here he is, in all his X-TREME glory and handsomeness:

Anyway, I'd really appreciate it if any of you who feel up to it could send some nice gentle but thorough healing energy his way. I've been petitioning Bastet left and right myself.

UPDATE: Just heard from the vet. He told me a bunch of technical stuff (which I wrote down) but bottom line is it's not FIP, feline leukemia, or FIV, which is all good. But something is clogging up or cutting off the flow in his bile ducts, which could be anything from 'sludge' (the vet's word) to a tumor. So...

He's recommending an ultrasound, which will probably run about $350. Which we will do, but oh boy. So healing thoughts and wishes are still much appreciated, along with good prosperity vibes. Thank you all so much.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Goddess of the Week

Well. Another storm Goddess. This week's pick is Kelaeno, one of the three Harpies of Greek myth, with Her sisters Podarke ('Fleet-Footed') and Aello ('Whirlwind'). They are storm and wind Goddesses Who are also very much associated with horses, probably because of the swiftness of that animal. (I have a hunch, also, that a horse's mane is symbolic of the wind.) There are generally said to be three, but some authors name just two. There are a great many names attributed to the Harpies besides those above, such as Nikothoe ('Running-Victor'), Aellopos ('Storm-Footed'), and Thuella ('Storm Wind' or 'Hurricane'). Oddly enough, Kelaeno's name is the only one I've seen that does not reference swiftness or the wind; for it means 'the Black One.' Perhaps this refers to the dark storm clouds; but it is striking that She shares a name with the Hindu Goddess Kali, Whose name means the same, 'Black One.' I would even venture a guess that the words are related, given that both Greek and Sanskrit are Indo-European languages.

The name harpyiai means 'the Snatchers,' and They were said to be instruments of divine punishment, Who went out at the command of Zeus. They were famously set on King Phineus of Thrake as punishment for his too-accurate oracles; They harassed him by either snatching his food away or making it befouled and inedible. They were eventually chased off by one Boreades, Who, though an Argonaut, was actually one of the sons of the North Wind and the Goddess of snow, Khione. Boreades, like the Harpies, had great wings and could fly; He chased them all the way to the Strophades Islands, where He was stopped by Iris, the rainbow Goddess (and sister to the Harpies), Who forbid Him to harm Them; in exchange for Their promise to leave Phineus alone, Boreades let the Harpies be.

They were depicted in many different ways through the years, and could be beautiful maidens, horrible bird-monsters, or some combination of the two; but They were always shown with great wings. Kelaeno seems to have been Their leader, and She had the gift of prophecy; though unsurprisingly Her oracles were mostly of the gloom and doom sort.

So then this is two weeks in a row that we get a storm Goddess, as last week's was the Yorùbá Orisha of storms, lightning and hurricanes Oya. Something is changing, and it's not just the season, though parts of the US did have a major snow storm last week. But this is no ordinary storm. The Harpies are the Goddesses of sudden disappearances, of things snatched away, of things inevitably catching up with you; and I don't know what anyone can do to ward them off. They are persistent and tenacious, and very very angry. I don't know that they can be placated.

I ask what She has to say, Kelaeno, the Black One. She is very sly. I was not expecting that. I assumed Her loud, angry, windy.

Her hair billows, though, in no wind; she is constantly moving, feathers ruffled, always shifting, never sitting still.

She says:

I am of the black, the Void. I am the breath of the world, I am the swift air, the horses thundering across the plain shaking the earth. I am the darkness under earth, the blackness there, the fair wind in the stale underground. I bring you there, to the dark, you and the year we go together.

I bring you where you need to go. Not where you want to go; where you need to go. It is not your choice.

I am movement and change I blow the leaves off the trees and pile them in hollows where they will rot to black, the dead rotting to the mould and the marrow, becoming next year's rich soil; though I am not really concerned with that end of things.

I am cold cold wind and I am the dark. But remember that the winter wind chases me away. Wait for it to turn. Though the darkness turns the cold has only just begun to set in; that is the island's name, the turning, strophe. We can not be stopped, only turned.

Take a deep breath. Here I come, for you.

Well. What do you think?

Reference: The Theoi Harpies page.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Story for the Dark

(I wrote this a couple of years back; it seems appropriate to share it here, now.)

"Tell me a story," I say, as we lie there in the dark.

He laughs, for even to my own ears I sound like a child, but also, because he recognizes that winter is the proper time for stories, stories that both explore and keep away the dark.

"Okay," he says.

"Once there was a girl named Aridela, with hair black as ink. Now Aridela loved the dark and the night; and her favorite thing in the whole world was to lie asleep and dream, of faraway places and wonderful lands, of magical beings and forests that spoke. But one night, something terrible happened, and it happened in the dark she loved so much: her mother was lost."

"Oh," I say, all fear and foreboding, "You don't think my mom is going to die soon, do you?"

"Shhh," he says, "Don't interrupt. Your mother's fine, she'll outlive us all, trust me, and God help us. And anyway I didn't say Aridela's mother died; I just said she was lost. Try to pay attention.

"So Aridela lost her mother, and it made her very sad, and a little angry, too. And she looked long and far in the dark for her mother, and could not find her. And she began to hate the dark, the dark she had used to love.

"Now, underneath all hate is a little seed of fear; and though Aridela didn't see it at first, that fear grew until she feared the dark and became terrified of it. And she became too afraid to even put one foot in front of the other, and she stopped altogether, and sat down in the dark in a little ball, too frightened to move. And, eventually, she became so afraid that she dared not even breathe, hardly, and she felt the walls press in on her, as if she were deep underground.

"She stayed this way for a long time, silent, still, and unable to see, for there was no light, no light at all where she was.

"But in time she became so still that everything around her also became still; and at last she saw before her feet a tiny little light. And she saw that it was coming from a little pool, which had become so still it was now like a mirror; and the little light was the reflection of a star, a star that shone through a hole in the roof. And Aridela stood up, and pulled herself out of that hole onto a hilltop into the good night air, surrounded by the beautiful dark. And to the east she could see the horizon, and the faint light of the coming dawn. The end."

"The end?" I say. I don't think I find his story very comforting. "What happened to her mother? Did Aridela ever find her?"

"No," he says, "she didn't. Aridela's mother found her."

Well, that's a little better. "Now hang on," I say, and I know he knows that Aridela is a title of the Goddess Ariadne, "With a name like Aridela I'd expect Dionysos to be in there somewhere."

"He was," he says. "He was the Star."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Goddess of the Week

Speaking of dark Goddesses, this week's Goddess pick is Oya, the powerful Yorùbá Orisha (roughly Goddess) of destruction, violent storms, and change. She is described as a warrior Goddess around Whom whirlwinds swirl, Who can call forth the lightning; She carries a saber or machete, which She uses to clear new paths, and a fly-whisk as emblem of royalty, for She is considered a Queen. She is an excellent horsewoman and rides into battle ahead of Her husband Sàngó, bringing Her storm winds.

She is one of the three wives of Sàngó (with Oba and Osun), and is associated with the Niger River. Purple, maroon and dark red are Her colors, and nine is Her number, as the Niger River is traditionally said to have nine tributaries.

As Goddess of destruction and change Oya destroys the old to make way for the new; and unsurprisingly She is also associated with the dead, and, like Maman Brigitte in the Vodou tradition, is guardian of cemeteries. She watches over the threshold between life and death, and is a psychopomp, or a Deity Who guides the souls of the dead to the Underworld.

Oya brings rapid, sometimes violent, change, and Her tempestuous moods are legendary (much like Yemaya, Who is sometimes said to be Her mother). For all that She can bring chaos and destruction, however, Her methods are firmly in service to truth; though whether that truth is easy or difficult to accept is not Her concern.

Though the general theme of the death of the old to make way for the new is certainly appropriate at this time of year in the North, I'd say this card this week brings it a bit, well, closer to home. Destruction and change, perhaps unexpected or sudden is the theme of the week. I don't know what advice to give, except to try to ride it out, and to remember that what is cleared away has been so to make way for truth of some kind. I imagine it will get worse before it gets better, though.

On the other hand, it promises (threatens?) to be exciting. Perhaps the best advice would be to see if you can't align yourself with these forces of change, rather than being their hapless victim. Easier said than done, I know.

So I ask Oya, with respect, what if anything She has to say to us this week:

She is all flashing eyes and brightness, lightning flickering behind Her. Her voice is low and throaty, strong and vibrant, holding life and death at the same time, layered upon each other. She says:

Die that you may live.

She is gone.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


These last few years I find myself craving black in this season. Not at Samhain; no, then I crave orange and russet and red, the colors of the leaves or the fat full moon rising at sunset. But now, as we spiral down to Yule and the Solstice, and the light gets smaller and smaller like the aperture of a camera closing down, I want black like you wouldn't believe.

These last few years the practice of lighting lights for the season has seemed so alien, so wrong, so, and I don't normally use this word, so blasphemous. One does not welcome the dark by lighting a candle. This seems obvious to me, these last few years. Perhaps I am becoming old and cynical and fed up with holiday spirit and the usual forced cheeriness; that is entirely plausible. Probable, even. But I want to sit with the dark. That feels proper. I do not want to hurriedly banish it away at the first thought; that feels like denial, like fear, like willful ignorance. This preemptive warding-off, this feverish and wide-eyed jumping ahead to the light feels disrespectful, like it is ignoring, dismissing the reality of the dark.

I want to sit with the dark a while, in quietude. Long enough, at least, for my eyes to grow accustomed to it. Long enough that I can, maybe, look around a bit.

For me, anyway, and only in these last most recent years. I do not know why my attitude has shifted, but it feels calm and measured, and not based in fear, or despair, or seasonal depression. Perhaps I have simply had enough of the blaring commercialism, itself a form of denial. I don't know.

And this year I find I want to paint Styx, the Goddess, She of the blue-black river, the eldest daughter of primaeval Ocean. A dark Goddess, certainly, but an uncomfortable one; and I am not entirely sure why I am so drawn to paint Her. For Her name means Hatred.

She is an ambiguous figure, or is, at least, to a radical feminist such as myself. She is a Titanis, one of the elder race of Gods, against Whom upstart Zeus started a war for supremacy. When He declared war He invited the other Gods to join Him, telling them He would heap status and gifts on those taking His side; and Styx, though a Titanis Herself, was the first to come to Him, against Her own people. For this, She was rewarded with a river named for Her, a river considered so holy the Gods swore oaths by it.

Did you catch that? When Zeus declared war, Hatred immediately flew to His side.

She is properly a traitor, this Styx, though of course described in glowing terms by the winners Who wrote mythic history, meaning, the Olympians, Who ended up dominant and victorious. Nike, Victory, is Her daughter, which is I suppose a large part of why the Olympians won, for when Styx went to Their side She brought Her family with Her. Victory, Daughter of Hatred. Something is being acknowledged there, don't you think?

But Styx is a Titanis, and is mentioned as early as Hesiod (which is about as early as you're going to get in Greek myth). And the thing with the Titanes is that they are generally regarded as belonging to an older stratum of myth, one likely held by an earlier people, who were assimilated into the Greeks proper when they arrived in the land; the mythic war between the two sets of Gods being a sort of fossilized representation of the conflict between the two peoples and their traditions playing out. That is of course simplified, and probably only true in a general sense; still, it makes me wonder about the roots of Styx. What is She really?

I would guess that the myth has it backwards, as myths usually do concerning attributes of the Gods; She was always Goddess of that Underworld river, as that is by definition what She is. The story about being given the river as reward is a later explanation, a rationalization; the river was always Hers. And it is unusual, also, that She is a river Goddess, for the overwhelming majority of river Deities in Greek myth are male, as a quick skim of the Potami page at Theoi shows. So She is a rare exception to the rule. That, right there, hints that She is old, or original, autochthonous if you will, sprung from the land, some older remnant that proved intractable to the new inhabitants, and could not be changed, only adopted. But I don't know.

She is, as I said, ambiguous, for although Her name means Hatred, Styx is also concerned with matters of justice and truth; Her river is so sacred, and so powerful, it knows, She knows, when the Gods are lying, and the waters will poison Them if They do, which is part of why oaths sworn by Styx are so strong. Or, at least, matters of justice and truth so far as the Olympian Gods, so far as Zeus, are concerned. I do not know that I consider His justice my justice.

I spent an evening not too long ago researching Styx, starting out at the Theoi page and following branching paths and faint scents; and I found that there is a real river, in Arkadia, Greece, which is called the Styx. It took a bit of research to get to its modern name, and where exactly it is located, but after a few hours I tracked it down, and, wonder that the internet is, it wasn't too long before I found a photo of it. It is quite dramatic, a high spring falling from a sheer cliff; and the rocks at the base are a rusty red and a deep, wet, black. Here, see for yourself.

If I paint Her I will make Her hair black, and long, and flowing, as is proper to a river Goddess. She will be in red and blue-black, I think, and in shadow. The north side of a mountain, of the underworld, kind of shadow, the kind that never sees the sun, deep and ambiguous and dark.

I mean, if I paint Her. I am not sure I will.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Off For A Bit

Just a heads-up that I will be away for the next couple of weeks, and so there will be no Goddess of the Week posts in that time. I should be back the first week of December. Until then, happy Thanksgiving to the Usaians, and happy November to the rest of y'all. See you when I get back!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Goddess of the Week

This is the first time Oshun has come up; She is originally an Orisha (Spirit or Goddess) of the Yorùbá people, who are mostly from the West African country of Nigeria (though more than a million live in Benin, also). She is the Deity of the Osun river in Nigeria (where Her name is usually spelled the same way, Osun), and like Yemaya, finds a place in many of the 'New World' religions of the African diaspora, such as Lukumi (aka Santería), where She is known as Oshun or Ochun, and Brazilian Candomblé, where She is Oxum.

She is a Deity of love and beauty who is also concerned with matters of riches and prosperity and abundance, as well as prediction and divination; the eldest of the Orishas, Obatala, taught Her the proper use of the cowrie shells, which knowledge She then passed on to humankind. She is charming, and beautiful, and on the young side, being a bit of a coquette, so I hear; and gold, orange, and yellow are Her colors, the colors of wealth, the muddy river, pumpkin seeds. Five is Her number.

She is called Oshun Yeye Kari, "the Mother of Sweetness," and sweet things like honey, oranges and perfume are offered to Her; as is the pumpkin, both for its orange color and the abundance of its seeds.

She is about both sweetness and healing; and She has a bit in common, it occurs to me, with Kamrusepas, that Goddess of the Hittites Who heals with honey and fruit and sweetness.

When I first picked this card it struck me as personally rather incongruous, because I would not say I feel life is very sweet right now; in fact much of my personal work lately has been about acknowledging and accepting a great deal of anger on my part. And then I thought about how my surroundings aren't exactly infused with sweetness at the present time either, and, well, I got a bit cynical, which is never good for helping one feel sweet.

And though of course these readings are not really for my benefit, it takes a bit to see through one's own filters, as ever; and so the question that came to me was how does one find sweetness when it is not around you? If your environment isn't sweet, then what?

The answer as always is to look within yourself. If they can't provide you with it, you can at least give it to yourself. You have to start there anyway.

So, this week, look to how you can be kinder, sweeter, to yourself, regardless of how bitter your circumstances might feel, and without discounting or invalidating your own anger or bitter feelings. It's not that dealing with anger is not important work, if that is where you are; rather that a break is much needed and can help you get perspective. Perhaps it might be good to put it down, for a little while.

This week think about how you treat yourself. Honey, we call our sweethearts--what if we took a week and used that name on ourselves? What difference would that make in how we looked at our actions, our thoughts, and how we treat ourselves? How can you treat yourself with sweetness?

I ask Oshun if She has anything to say to us, and She says:

Flow flow flow, slow and smooth, like gold, sweet sweet honey, sweet sweet water; let it all flow. Just let it, no pushing; it will find the way. Water always does. Let it carve out the path of least resistance and greatest beauty, the sweet sweet waters. Flow, flow, flow. Just let it be. It will find its way. You will find your way. Down, down, downhill to the Sea. All is well. All is golden and lush and sweet. See your face reflected in the setting sun, down, down, sunset reflected in the blue Sea. Let it be.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Goddess of the Week

Apparently we are on Southern Hemisphere time this week, since this week's Goddess is Gwenhwyfar, Who I've depicted here as the quintessential May Queen (and yes I've spelled it wrong on the card). But it is a little odd to be looking at Her up here in New England, since we are now in the starting days of grey miserable yucky November (can you tell it is my least favorite month?) and are still in the season of Samhain, of death, decay, and the thinning veil.

However Samhain and Beltaine have more in common than one might think. The veil is thin at both times, though Samhain favors ghosts and the dead while at Beltaine it's more likely to be the faeries coming through. Not too surprising, really, when you consider that even though from one location the holidays are at opposite ends of the year, from the Earth's point of view they happen at the same time.

Gwenhwyfar last came up both the first and second weeks of May, at what would seem a far more appropriate time, given Her connection with the idea of the sacred marriage. Called Guinevere in the Arthurian legends, she is the wife of the great King Arthur, and famous for having an illicit affair with the best of his knights, Lancelot du Lac. ("Du Lac", incidentally, meaning "of the Lake" because he was brought up by the otherworldy Lady of the Lake, Vivian.) Her origins have mostly been forgotten but may well lie in an old sovereignty Goddess Who embodied the land; and there are hints of a Divine origin for Gwenhwyfar, here and there.

And I know all this, and you do too if you've clicked on the links above; but I was still having an impossible time figuring out why She might show up now when Samhain is just so strong up here, aside from the lesson to remember that opposites contain the other (Samhain/Beltaine), or that the northern hemisphere isn't the only one the globe possesses.

Then I remembered Her name.

Gwenhwyfar means "White Phantom."

And I think of those other Celtic sovereignty Goddesses, like Epona, and Rhiannon, and even Blodeuwedd, Who embody the land; and each of Them has Their winter, Their dark, chthonic side: Epona is held to be a psychopomp, a Soul Guide Who brings the newly dead to the Otherworld; Rhiannon's first husband, Pwyll, was the King of that land for a time; and Blodeuwedd, though made from spring flowers, has as Her emblem the owl, that lonely haunter of the night.

And what is under there, then? It is hard to tell. Gwenhwyfar's, Guinevere's, story as we know it now has been so thoroughly interwoven with a later set of rules it is hard to know which threads to pick; I had never understood, for example, why, once Arthur was killed, Guinevere never married Lancelot, and instead chose to become a nun; I had thought that it was some kind of strange strict Christian morality play (which it may well be), but now I see that given the underlying logic of things she cannot marry Lancelot. For if she does, he becomes King. And the story, being that of greatness and glory irretrievably lost, is such that it must end.

Perhaps that is the thread. When Arthur first meets Guinevere, Merlin warns him against the marriage; and indeed the Queen is often indirectly (or directly) blamed for the fall of Camelot because of her affair with Lancelot.

I can see her flickering at the corner of my vision, now, stopped in a doorway to glance at me, before She is gone. She is all in white. This time is a threshold, is it not?

So I ask the Goddess as always, What do You have to say?

White am I, like hawthorn, like snow. I am white, white as ever I am, as white as apple blossom as white as bone, both, as I always am and always have been. As I am ever I, all of me, the White Lady, the Great Queen, the bone-white Mother, the white shadow of the land. I am all these things, these are all myself, one I, the horse carved in the chalk, winter's water overrunning summer's settlement, the white at the heart of the dark, the white you cannot see, the bone hidden within the flesh and the body that does not see the light of day whilst one lives. Except in bared teeth, that is, and that is a clue to my nature; it is the white smile of a gentle lady, and the knowing grin of the skull. This is nothing new; I am surprised you have not learnt it by now.

Remember both. Like Samhain and Beltaine happen at once, I am at once both, and so thoroughly both it is only one thing. My left hand and my right hand, identical and perfect and mirrored. If you look now you will see them both.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Remembering the Ancestors at Samhain

I actually have an ancestor who was burnt at the stake. This fact is very impressive in certain Witchy circles; though he wasn't burnt as a Witch, just a heretic. Just. Like that made a difference.

So at Samhain, and though my religion is not his religion, I remember John Rogers, Protestant martyr, who was burnt at the stake on February 4th, 1555, in the town square in Smithfield, England. He has more than a few descendants, I hear; and no wonder, considering he had eleven children, one famously 'a babe at the breast' when he was executed.

He had a hand in translating into English what would become the King James version of the Bible; there is a Wikipedia page on him if you are so inclined.

His spirit of non-conformity, in both the usual sense and its original, religious, sense, lives on, and is in fact quite celebrated on that side of my family, the crazy artsy side, my mother's side. We remember him in how we live.

This also means the urge to religious freedom is in my bones.

So at Samhain, Summer's End, I remember John Rogers.

The Veil

It's odd. This time last year I could feel the veil thinning so profoundly that I feared it would tear. This year I can't tell at all.

Okay, it's not that odd.

See, I live in an old house. A very old house, for this area at any rate; one that's a good two hundred and fifty years old, an old New England colonial, the kind with the enormous central chimney and a fireplace in every room. Now, it's a lovely quaint house, with the clapboards and twelve over twelve windows, don't get me wrong, but it comes with a bit of, shall we say, baggage.

And I grew up here. I spent some time away from it, and have come back to it since; but I was a child in this house. Which is its own kind of baggage, I know.

Besides being my childhood home, it was also the childhood home of a certain murderer, now, thankfully, deceased, who was a child living here in the fifties; my father, in fact, bought the house from his mother. There are tales of plastering over bullet holes in one of the attic rooms where he supposedly had taken pot shots at flies with his BB gun.

Now, all that might sound like a delightfully thrilling little bit of history, something to spook kids sitting around a campfire at night. Yeah, well, except it's true.

And except for the fact that I am a person given to anxiety, and have been so all my life. I have never, unsurprisingly, understood that idea about kids liking to be scared; for me, that is something dearly to be avoided. I am still, at forty years old, afraid of the dark.

And besides the murderer who lived here, this house is, like I said, two and a half centuries old. I once told my best friend that I was afraid of ghosts, and she said, 'Well, yeah,' (actually, the way she said it it was more a 'well, duh') 'you live in a haunted house.' And that will make me feel better how exactly? Thanks, Tracey.

And there I was last year, or here I was last year, in this house, ultra-sensitive to the thinning veils around me. I was seeing things out of the corner of my eye all the time. I would come down into the kitchen to find my mother just leaving the room, only it wasn't her, and there was no one down there; or it would slowly come to me that there was a man standing over there in the piano room; or I would get up in the middle of the night and nearly trip over a cat who wasn't there; never mind finding Emily, curious, bent over me watching me while I was sleeping. Jesus Christ; for a nervous and naturally anxious sort, these things were just not good for me.

So I shut it off. Literally; I imagined a wall, on which was a series of outdoor taps, like the kind you attach a garden hose to. And I went up to the one labelled 'ghosts', and I shut it off. Completely. Not even a drip. And, periodically, over the course of the last year, I have checked on it, to make sure it is still off. Off, and quite dry.

And I have to say this last year I've been much better on the anxiety front. So much, in fact, that this year I found myself actually enjoying autumn, the colors of the trees and the crisp air and all, which, unlike pretty much every other Pagan in the entire world, has always been one of my least favorite seasons. And I also find myself very much into Hallowe'en, and (and this is very much an artist thing) craving the color scheme of black, ash grey, pumpkin orange, and electric midnight blue. It's kind of funny, actually.

I am relaxed and free.

But I can't feel the veil thinning at all. It is like I have cotton in my ears.

It is not ideal, no, and I know this; but, still, for now, I will take it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Goddess of the Week

Lilith, Whose name means "Night Spirit," is a Sumerian dark Goddess Who is linked with the great Goddess Inanna. She may have Her origins in a type of night or wind demon; and in the Sumerian tale of The Huluppu-Tree, dating to at least the mid-third millenium BCE, Lilith represents Inanna's fears:

At that time, a tree, a single tree, a huluppu-tree
Was planted by the banks of the Euphrates.
The tree was nurtured by the waters of the Euphrates.
The whirling South Wind arose, pulling at its roots
And ripping at its branches
Until the waters of the Euphrates carried it away.

A woman who walked in fear of the word of the Sky God, An,
Who walked in fear of the word of the Air God, Enlil,
Plucked the tree from the river and spoke:
"I shall bring this tree to Uruk.
I shall plant this tree in my holy garden."

Inanna cared for the tree with her hand.
She settled the earth around the tree with her foot.
She wondered:
"How long will it be until I have a shining throne to sit upon?
How long will it be until I have a shining bed to lie upon?"

The years passed; five years, then ten years.
The tree grew thick,
But its bark did not split.

Then a serpent who could not be charmed
Made its nest in the roots of the huluppu-tree.
The Anzu-bird set his young in the branches of the tree.
And the dark maid Lilith built her home in the trunk.

The young woman who loved to laugh wept.
How Inanna wept!
(Yet they would not leave her tree.)

Here Lilith is a stand-in for Inanna's fear of Her own power and sexuality, represented by the throne and the bed She wishes to build for Herself. But Inanna is too afraid to face Her fears alone. She first goes to Her brother Utu, the Sun God, Who refuses to help Her. But Gilgamesh, the famous hero, will, and does so by striking the snake at the roots and chasing the Anzu-bird away. Lilith also then leaves the tree; however, She, it is said,

...smashed her home and fled to the wild, uninhabited places.

In other words, though Lilith flees, She gets a shot in first. Lilith always does things on Her own terms.

After this, Inanna gets Her throne and Her bed, and is able to claim Her power.

A little of Lilith's legend bled over into the local monotheistic traditions, and so She found a place in Jewish legend as the first wife of Adam, created like him from clay. When She rejected Adam because he insisted that he was superior, She uttered the sacred name of God and left Eden, to give birth to demon children in sadness. She was regarded as a dweller in desolate places, and commonly believed to be a succubus, causing lust and nocturnal emissions in men.

Now, of course, I'm a Pagan, so inclined to regard that last talent with kind of an Eh? So what? but apparently it has caused some distress over the years among the monotheists. Poor things.

At any rate, it does speak to Lilith's sexual power and ability to cause fear. I'm not surprised, really, that Lilith is showing up this week, the week of Samhain here in the north (or for that matter, odd as it sounds, for Beltaine in the south, given that holiday's association with lust), the week that ushers in the dark half of the year.

Lilith is the fear that keeps us from beginning, and keeps us from acting. Standing here at the threshold of the dark at Samhain, I am not surprised that fear is coming up. What lies ahead of us now is the dark, and we will not be able to see there. I do not know what the solution is, whether to chase Her out with brute force, as in Inanna's legend (though if you do expect that She will not like it, and will destroy something on Her way out), or whether one can go into the desolate places, Her land and home, and seek Her beauty and strength there. Lilith is strong and righteous in Her own way, after all. In the Jewish legends, She had such obvious respect for Her own self worth that She chose to flip off God and be alone rather than live in Paradise as an inferior.

I suspect that Lilith will prove a friend to bold women.

And as always, I ask What does She say?

I cry in the night.

I scream in the night.

I will fight for you I will destroy for you I will kill for you.

Gods and men, they have lost their claim. I see what they do, have done, will do, and I do not forget. I will destroy them. It must be done. It is right. I am right.

I am dark, yes, and that means I am wise, too; though that part has been forgotten, erased, smudged out of recognition. The owl is mine, is She not?

And I am the serpent. Here, at the threshold of the dark, the dark that precedes the light, always. Ask me how I know. Or don't. How brave are you? I am the serpent, shedding its skin as it slides into its hole, down, down into the dark. Like Inanna and Her seven veils, isn't it? Strange. Or not.

I am anger and I am right. I am dark-eyed Lilith, and I will do whatever it takes.

Smart Women. You know there is a star in the apple, that symbol of shining Knowledge. Eat. Remember.


The Huluppu-Tree from Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth, by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer

Friday, October 23, 2009

Contest at Mrs. B's!

Just a reminder Mrs. B will be giving away this knitty kitty at her blog, Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom today, Friday the 23rd of October. So get over there and enter!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Goddess of the Week

This week's pick is Selene, the Moon Goddess of the Greeks. She came up once before, the first week of February last. She is a Titaness, meaning one of the older race of Gods; Her name just means "Moon" in Greek. She is the daughter of clear-sighted Theia and Hyperion, the God of light.

One of Selene's alternate names is Mene, which means both 'Moon' and 'Month.' The calendar in ancient Greece was a lunar one, in which each month corresponded to one lunation; the first of the month was the day of the first lunar crescent (the new moon, or, more properly, the first day or so after the new moon), and the fifteenth was the full moon. These days were called noumenia and dikhomenia, respectively, and were both held sacred to Selene, though noumenia was the more celebrated of the two.

She was also given the epithets of Pasiphaë, 'All-Shining,' the name usually given to the mother of Ariadne (Herself a Moon-Goddess) and Eileithyia, the name of the very ancient Goddess of Childbirth--as pregnancy is counted in months, a Goddess of the month would logically be linked with pregnancy and childbirth. Also, perhaps, it may have something to do with light Goddesses (such as the Roman Lucina) being associated with childbirth, as when a baby is born it comes out into the light for the first time.

I am taking Her presence this week to indicate that it will be especially important to pay attention to the next two weeks of the waxing Moon, these two weeks that lead up to and include Samhain, that great (Celtic) holiday celebrating the dark and the night. Something is growing, or coming into being; something, perhaps, coming up from the unconscious into the light, such as a new way of looking at an old problem, or putting some old pieces into place regarding a past situation. Something will be brought out where it is visible, finally. Though it is not the sun's light illuminating it, remember--whatever it is it will be something of a more ephemeral nature, something of the moonlight and the night.

I suppose that's not really any different than what goes on anyway if one is in tune with the Moon's cycle in a witchy kind of way; just that Selene coming up this week means it will be especially significant, and especially worth paying attention to.

Let's see what She says:

See what you can see. Look, now. Look, under this different light. Look with these different eyes. The dark and the light, see into the shadows. Now. Now. Now you can see with different eyes. This time is different. Right now. The veil is thin, they say. Do you not see me with a veil, always, billowing behind me and soaked with light?

See what you can see by this light, now. It is a very good time for seeing.

I take that to mean divination, scrying and the like will be especially fruitful now. What do you see?

Main reference: Theoi's Selene page. Just in case there are readers out there who have not found their way to that superb site on Greek mythology, good God, get over there now.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New Etsy Monsters and a Contest!

Just for Hallowe'en, I've added four new knit monster-creatures at my Imporium Etsy shop. Check out this pic:

As you can see, a rather unsavory lot. But who's that in the front, you ask? Why it's a lovely black and orange Hallowe'en knitty kitty, who has apparently fallen in with the wrong crowd (his grandmother is beyond disappointed). Well, choice of friends aside, Mr. Hallowe'en cat with the bowtie is going to be offered up as a prize for one of Mrs. B's 31 Days of Hallowe'en contests! On the 23rd day, to be precise, which is next Friday, I believe. So don't forget to get on over there on the 23rd! (Don't worry, I'll remind you). Here's a close-up:

Speaking of Mrs. B's giveaways, one of today's is a real doozy, and has an incredible amount of stuff bought special in Salem, Massachusetts. Some of them are even from Laurie Cabot's store! So get over there and enter while you still have time!

Also, these are toys fifteen through nineteen of the One Hundred Toys Project. I'm nearly a fifth of the way there!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Goddess of the Week

Sif's name means 'kinswoman' or 'relative'; it is related to the English word sibling, meaning 'brother or sister.' The meaning of Sif's name is a little more precise, however; it is the singular (and Her name is the only time the singular is used) of the plural Old Norse noun sifjar, which means 'relatives by marriage.'

Marriage, not blood. In the myth, Sif is the mother of the God of Winter Ullr; His father is never named, just said to be a frost-giant. Her second husband, then, and the one She was most associated with, is the famous Thor. It is always very carefully pointed out that Thor is Ullr's step-father, and Ullr Thor's step-son.

Which all has to do with the complicated ways the Norse defined types of kinship; as far as I can tell, and I'm looking at this, as ever, through a very feminist lens, this particular and careful distinction was a way of favoring the male line over the female. Because Ullr's mother married Thor, Ullr's father was discounted, to the extent that He has remained nameless in myth.

I suppose one might argue that maybe Ullr's father was never named because it wasn't a big deal, and it was more important to identify Him with Sif; I don't think the Norse thought like that, though. I don't know how old Sif is within the culture, and it may be that the relative by marriage aspect of Her is the main or original one.

On the other hand, it would seem that Ullr, Whose name means 'Glorious One' was once a very important and very old God in the Norse pantheon, though by the time the sagas &c. were written down He is only sparsely mentioned. He was, like His mother, said to be very very beautiful. And it would make sense that a Very Important God like Ullr might just have a Very Important Mother; so perhaps all that past glory of Ullr's might also indicate a greater past measure of glory for His mother. By Thor Sif did have a daughter, Þrúðr (Thrúdr), Whose name means 'Strength;' whether that reflects on the mother's or father's strength I don't know.

The thing is there just isn't a whole lot known of Sif, beyond that She had the gift of prophecy, and that story about Loki cutting off Her long golden hair; it has been assumed that because of said hair She may have Her origins in a fertility Goddess, specifically a grain Goddess.

And it does make sense that Sif, the Goddess of the Grain and its harvest, which happens in autumn, would give birth to Ullr, Winter.

Now, Her appearance this week may be just another note to add to the ongoing theme of harvest, going on in the Northern Hemisphere at this time; it would certainly be timely. And that may be what's going on in the background of things, in a sort of general sense.

But given all I just wrote above, I'm inclined to wonder about how autumn gives birth to winter; how one season transforms into the next. Samhain, after all, which is only a couple weeks away now up here in the north, is when autumn turns to winter, life into death; that moment of liminality, literally that threshold. It's not here quite yet, but Autumn is pregnant with Winter now; Life is pregnant with Death.

Autumn thoughts, I suppose. I'd pay attention this week, though. I know these are the usual questions asked at this time: What is dying? What is being harvested? What dies now so you will live through the Winter?

And questions of family, too, especially the chosen family (even if you are not the one who did the choosing), the in-laws, the stepchildren. I am tempted to expand it out to your chosen family, the friends you consider family; but I think the definition here is actually the narrower one, going by the precision implied in Sif's name.

Also, and this is fairly random but is nagging at me to let it come through, perhaps do some scrying this week. Not just because Samhain, or Beltaine, is coming, but because of Sif's status as seeress.

Let's see if She can offer any clarification:

I am Mother of Strength and of the hard hard Winter. Beautiful, glorious, formidable, ice cold Winter. Our word for Earth up here? Is Rind, the Frozen One. That is the first state of things, and it will be the last.

The warmth you would find you must make yourself. The warmth you must have to survive you must make yourselves. Make it between and among you. Do not be fooled by my beautiful golden hair, my maiden appearance, my thundering husband Who drowns out my voice. I know more than he does. True, it is not difficult. But my first husband, my first love, was a creature of the ice and frost.

My hair curls like the precious breath that comes from the warm mouths of you fragile fragile humans. Yet that breath is strong; unbreakable Gleipnir was made in part from breath, was it not? And that will only break at the end of the world.

Which is coming, and is here now, and has passed.

Goodness. What do you think?


The Category of Affinity (Mágsemð) in the Old Norse Model of Family Relations, by Fjodor Uspenskij

An Introduction to Viking Mythology, by John Grant

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fessonia Article at OGOD

Now up, a new article at the Obscure Goddess Online Directory on the Roman Goddess of the Weary, Fessonia.

One might presume I had my reasons for choosing to write about this Goddess this week; well, you'd be correct.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Goddess of the Week

This week's Goddess is another Goddess with West African origins, Aida-Wedo, the Rainbow Serpent.

She features in legends of both the Yorùbá and Fon peoples (from the areas of modern Nigeria and Benin, respectively), and is considered very ancient, with a part in the beginnings of the Universe.

According to the Fon creation myth, in the beginning there was only Ashe, the life force or creative energy. Ashe desired to become material; and in thinking this thought became Olodumare, the Creator, or God. But this was not balanced, and so a female divine force also came into being: Nana Buluku, Who gave birth to the twins, Mawu, the Moon Goddess, and Lisa, the Sun God. (Incidentally, Yemaya is linked with Nana Buluku.) These two then made the Great Divinities, Who desired to create and further enlarge the Universe. But They knew that a balancing force would be needed, one that bound the expanding Universe together; and so Dan Ayido Huèdo, the Rainbow Serpent, was created. This Rainbow Serpent is wrapped around both the earth and heaven, binding them together and linking the two.

In Yorùbá legend the serpent has two balanced parts: one in the sky, called Danh, and one in the sea, Aida Hwedo.

In Haitian Vodoun, which is in large part rooted in Fon beliefs (rather than Yorùbá), the Lwa Danbala was a large snake Who held the Earth together. When the first rains came, Aida-Wedo the Rainbow Serpent appeared; and They fell in love and were married. Aida-Wedo and Danbala are considered Rada Lwa, meaning spirits of the family that originated in Africa, held to be 'cool' or calmer in nature than the Petwo Lwa, Who originated in the Americas under slavery and are thought of as 'hot' and fierce. Aida-Wedo and Danbala both bring fertility, wealth, and good luck.

Aida-Wedo is associated with water, unsurprisingly, and is said to dwell, with Her husband, in rivers and springs.

So this card then signifies unity, balance, matters of water, wholeness, and integration, which leads to integrity. The Rainbow Serpent is thought to encircle the entire earth in a complete circle, and is not just the arc that is visible in the sky. Last week was about Source, and, I think, or at least it seemed to have been a theme for me, about attributing sources properly, not just on the superficial level as in an academic context, but on a deeper level of figuring out and honoring where ideas and beliefs have come from. This week I think the message flows from that, with another watery Deity; it's both about proper attribution, honor, and respect, as well as seeing origins clearly, and it's about integrating and binding the elements together and seeing the whole picture. And about intuiting out what you can't see, too, I think, in the way that the rainbow continues below the horizon, out of sight.

What does She say to us this week?

An arch is strong; a circle is stronger. Pressure from outside only holds it together all the more. Strong enough to hold the world together. Squeeze an egg evenly and it will not break. Water and sunlight, air and cloud, and illusion keep the world from unraveling.

Persist. Persist. Find where the snake bites its tail, where the end is returned to the beginning. Uncover what the snake guards and holds; what it coils around. Find the hidden parts, the parts underwater, underearth, Underworld, the full half that is not seen. Persist. Seek. Discover. Uncover. Remember wholeness.

What do you think?


African Mythology, by Jan Knappert
The Encyclopedia of African Religion, edited by Molefi Kete Asante and Ama Mazama
MythHome: Yoruba Religion

Monday, September 28, 2009

Goddess of the Week

Yemaya is the Yorùbá Orisha (Spirit or Deity) of the Sea. She is a great Mother Goddess and protector of women and children. Her name is a contraction of the Yorùbá phrase Yeye emo eja, which means, 'Mother Whose Children Are Like Fish,' i.e., multitudinous. She is honored in many of the sister religions of the African diaspora such as Candomblé, Lukumi (Santería), and Vodoun (where She is known as Lasiren).

In Africa She is the Goddess of the Ogun River in Nigeria; in the Americas She has become associated with the ocean. She is usually said to represent the surface of the ocean, however, not the depths; that is generally the province of the Orisha Olukun. Like the surface of the Sea She is usually fairly calm; but Her tempers are known to be quite stormy.

She is mother to many of the Orishas, and indeed is sometimes considered the mother of all living beings.

She is said to wear seven skirts of blue and white, symbolizing the seven seas.

I hear Her say: Let yourself run down to the Sea.

I think this week is about flow, in all its variations: going along with the flow, letting yourself flow into the path of least resistance, or drifting along with the currents of the ocean, even if the direction or destination is more spread out, less defined than a river's, or even if, like the great gyres of the oceans, the currents are in fact circular.

I am nervous, I will admit, about asking Yemaya what She thinks. I am a white woman, after all, and well aware of Neopaganism's oblivious tendency to appropriation; also I am an outsider and do not follow the Orishas myself. But I ask, because it is polite.

She says:

You are all my children. I am the Great Mother. The human race was born in Africa; all of your ancestors trace back to Africa. Some further than others, yes, but ultimately all from there. Remember this. Respect this.

Do not think I am not angry, O I am, very much so.

I am vast. I am the Sea. I am the largest thing by far on this planet. My memory is long and lasting; and what you do to me you do to yourselves.

Go to the water. Lift a shell to your ear and hear me. Listen to me. That is what I ask. That is what I demand. That is what will save you.

And stop being so damned hard on yourselves, you women. It stands in the way of getting things done.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Our Regular Schedule Will Resume Next Week

Sorry about that. Some sort of minor disturbance in the Force caused me to miss this week's Goddess of the Week feature.

I actually did pick one on Sunday, Tlazolteotl, and I started writing it all up; but I didn't get very far.

So I think the message, for me, at least, is to continue on the examining health problems. With some forgiveness thrown in for only doing what I can manage.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Goddess of the Week

This is the first time Diana has come up as the Goddess of the Week.

I am not particularly surprised, given last week's focus on matters of health. I have Her here as Diana of the Witches, Moon-Goddess and healer, holding a frog, which represents both healing and transformation, or, more succinctly, healing through transformation.

Diana is originally a Latin Goddess, meaning a Goddess of the Latin people, who were to form a good percentage of the later Roman people. She is a Goddess of women, the hunt, wild places, and the Moon; from fairly early times She was associated with the Greek Artemis, and it is a little tricky now to make out the differences between the two.

The name Diana simply means 'Goddess'; it is related to words like 'deity,' 'divinity,' 'deus,' 'Zeus,' and 'diva,' and has at its root the idea of light and shining.

She had a famous shrine on the shores of Lake Nemi in Italy, a lake rather dramatically located in the crater of an extinct volcano; the lake was called in ancient times the speculum Dianae, or 'mirror of Diana.' Votive offerings in the form of terracotta models of body parts, given in the hopes that the Goddess would heal the afflicted part, start showing up at Her shrine in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C.E.; this was probably part of a larger trend in Roman religion, but does indicate that Diana was thought of as a healer. And like Her Greek counterpart Artemis, Diana was prayed to for an easy childbirth.

So: health, specifically women's health, as Diana is a women's Goddess; also prayers for an easy childbirth.

I will admit I am having a tricky time separating this out, as I am myself currently trying to sort out health issues of my own, and I fear I am looking at all this much too personally. And now, interestingly enough, that is the second time the idea that it is tricky separating things out has come up. So I'm going to take that as part of the message.

So then, this week will still probably see health issues, and digging out the roots of them, as a major theme. Especially women's health issues (not all that surprising as I believe most of my readers here are women). It promises to be on the complex side, and be aware that there may be two strands to it when you had assumed there was only one, and/or that you are more sensitive to something than you were counting on. It is likely leading up to a rebirth of some sort, or a transformation; or, this rebirth or transformation may alternately be the root of it. Dig, investigate, look at it. This is powerful work.

The harvest is still ongoing, and though I don't particularly see it in this card, I feel I should mention it. Something in this is coming to fruition. I suppose, birth is the harvest of pregnancy, as well as the beginning of a new state of affairs.

She says:

Daughter. Daughters. Look to the moon, read by that light. Shine that light on things. Not the sun. He is too bright, and you will not see the subtlety of things by His light. But the moon.

The old wild ways, the dark in balance with the light, the light of the full moon shining alone at night; this is the kind of balance to achieve right now, a womanly balance, the balance of the divine woman, female, goddess. Not man's black and white, but the subtle shadows that yet hold a little reflected light within them. The moon is a reflection itself, is it not? My true mirror.

It is more complicated than you think, yes. Also more mine. And more yours, as women. Do not take the easy answers as truth in this case. Daughters, your healing is a little different. It must be whole.

I wish you all (and myself) good grace in untangling these strands.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Goddess of the Week

Hathor last showed up just over six months ago, on Valentine's Day. She is a very old ancient Egyptian Goddess Who is older than Egypt, really, dating back (at least) to Predynastic times. She is a Goddess of women Who is heavily associated with the cow as mother and nurturer; various tales place Her both at the beginning and end of things.

Hathor was commonly depicted in the form of a cow emerging from the "Primeval Mound", an archetypal version of the little hillocks of fertile mud left behind by the Nile after it flooded, which renewed the fertility of the land and which the Egyptians took as a metaphor for how the world was created. (Well, one metaphor, anyway.) She was also there at the beginnings of human life, for seven Hathors were said to attend births, acting like Fates or even faery godmothers, predicting the future of the newborn.

And at the other end of things, Hathor was said to wait at the entrance to the Afterlife, by the sycamore tree there; She welcomed the dead to their new home with bread and beer. In this role She was called the Mistress of the West.

In between those things She is a rich and multi-faceted Goddess, not surprising, really, for one so old. She is a Goddess of celebration, dance, music and partying; She is a Goddess of sky and stars; and She is also sometimes said to be the Goddess of revenge created when Ra grew angry with humankind.

I think, given that, that this coming week may be more complicated than you think. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it means it may take a little more digging to get down to the root of things, or to recognize motivations behind actions, both yours and others. 'Scrambled', actually, is the word I'm getting and I've no idea what that's got to do with Hathor, honestly, but it's pretty insistent. Perhaps it is not knowing whether to declare Hathor's influence as celebratory or bloodthirsty that is causing it. Both, I think, and I don't know quite what that means.

It is complicated, whatever it is. I think it can be ordered and that there is a pattern to it, but gawd help you seeing it at this time. Perhaps trusting is the best you can do, for the time being anyway.

Let's see if talking to Her clarifies anything:

Little ones, dear children: there is one answer beneath it all. It is all related and interrelated. When you can separate cause and effect you will see the roots more clearly. I am here as Mother. I am here as Nurturer. Look after your health this week. Look to things of the body. That is what I know. That is what is basic. That is what a good mother will ask when she sees you--Are you well? Are you eating enough?

I am first and last in this journey of your body. Trust me on this.

What are you feeling right now, in your body? It is a piece of it. It is a clue to your health. Listen to it. Take note. It is trying to tell you something.

Well, that's a little clearer; it's about health. Yes, very basic. So then, this week is about untangling a health problem and discovering the roots of it. Probably also that more that you would have thought is tied into it. It's complicated, true, but if we stop and listen to what our bodies are telling us we can make a start. At least I hope so.

What do you think? I think I will explore what She is saying further and meditate on this.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Goddess of the Week

For the first time in one of these readings I pulled Macha. She is an Irish Goddess, usually considered one aspect of the great triple Goddess of war and sex the Mórrígan. Macha, like Rhiannon in the medieval Welsh tales, is understood to be a woman of the Otherworld, but like Rhiannon She likely has roots in an ancient Goddess, perhaps even the same one--the continental Celtic Goddess of Horses, Epona.

The Mórrígan is a name meaning 'great queen', which is the exact Irish parallel of Rhiannon's name (which is more apparent when you consider the probable Romano-British form of the name, Rigantona); on the continent in Roman times, Epona was frequently given the Latin epithet Regina, 'queen'. Likely, then, we are talking about several Goddesses Who grew out of the old continental Celtic Epona.

The three aspects of the Mórrígan are not entirely clear, and there is disagreement as to how to arrange the strands of Her; usually, though, Her three aspects are named as Badb, Nemain, and Macha (others leave out Nemain, substituting a singular Goddess called the Mórrígan, and then call the whole trio the Mórrígna, which as far as I can tell is just the plural form of the name, meaning 'great queens').

The Mórrígan may additionally be an aspect of the Irish Earth Goddess Ana, which then links Her with Danu, making Her roots very old indeed, as Danu (which is, incidentally a hypothetical name) is linked with the Danube river in central Europe.

The Mórrígan as Goddess of War is a prophetess and shapeshifter Who often takes the form of a crow; Her aspect Badb, Whose name means 'hooded crow', haunts battlefields and takes joy in slaughter (She is also called Badb Catha, 'crow of battle'). Nemain's name means 'battle fury.'

Now to Macha. The meaning of Her name is a little hazier; it may mean 'earth' or 'field', and She may also be an aspect of an Earth or Sovereignty Goddess, not unlikely given that there are at least a couple places named for Her, Emain Macha (site of a late bronze age hill-fort, and the mythical capital of Ulster in the legends) and the city and district of Armagh (older Ard Macha, 'height of Macha').

In a peculiarly Celtic fractallated way (these tangled strands and slightly shifting variations on a theme remind me very much of the twists of Celtic knotwork, or the improvisations within the set rhythm of a reel), Macha, Herself an aspect of a triple Goddess, can be split into a further trio, as there are three distinct Machas in Irish myth. They are all, however, said to be the daughter of Ernmas, Who is also the mother of the triple Sovereignty Goddesses Banba, Fódla, and Ériu; the latter Goddess is the one after Whom Ireland is named.

At any rate. The first Macha is a prophetess, considered the wife of Nemed; not much is known of Her. The second is Macha Mong Ruadh, Red-Haired Macha; She is a queen of Ulster Who defeats Her rivals to the throne in battle. The heads of those slain in battle are called after this Macha mesrad Macha, the mast or acorn crop of Macha.

The third Macha is the most well-known. Like Rhiannon, She appears to be an Otherworldly woman Who seeks out a mortal man for a husband; unfortunately, also like in Rhiannon's tale, said husband proves to be, well, an idiot. He was a farmer named Crunniuc, and after they have been living together for a time he tells Her he is going to a great festival; but She warns him not to make mention of Her to anyone there.

As you might guess, once there Crunniac immediately brags about his wife, telling the king that his wife can outrun any of the king's horses. This, understandably, annoys the king, who demands that Macha then run against his horses; though She protests that She is nine months pregnant and about to give birth, the king threatens to execute Her husband if She does not run. So She does, and easily beats the horses; but just over the finish line She goes into labor, giving birth to twins.

And as She dies She sets a curse on the men of Ulster. For eighty-one generations, the men of Ulster are destined to suffer the pain and debilitation of childbirth. This pain is to last five days and four nights, and is only to apply when they are in great need, i.e., at the most spectacularly worst times possible.

The women of Ulster are, of course, exempt.

I have shown Macha here as a war Goddess with a hooded crow, in clothing the color of dried blood, walking the battlefield in the morning mists.

This week in my area we had a spell of hot summery weather followed by a much cooler patch; and it has put me in mind of autumn. Chilly nights and clear days, the crunch of acorns beneath your feet and the impending descent into the dark. It is coming.

This does not negate the harvest-theme of the past couple weeks; rather it throws into sharper focus the fact that there is more and more dark mingling with the light. There is death here, or there is dying here; it is dark but it is not something unexpected, either, unless autumn takes you by surprise every year. It is also aftermath, pumpkins in a field after the frost, pumpkins which by some modern trick of tradition get substituted for faces, jack-o-lanterns and scarecrow's heads.

It must be the cold weather here putting this in my mind; or maybe it was the magazine cover I saw today of, of all people, Martha Stewart hamming it up for the Hallowe'en issue of her magazine as a witch posing with an eldritch-looking black horse.

Last year I wasn't the only one to notice the veil thinning earlier than usual; whether I'm seeing the same signs this year or merely fearing it I don't know. And I have to ask, if this is a trend, is it because we humans, in our relentless poisoning of the planet, have worn it threadbare?

I am afraid to ask, a little, but She is here, and She will be heard:

Do not fear. I am on the side of every woman. I should have thought you would know that by the stories. I am sister, mother, the Earth Herself. I know a victim when I see one, and I do not fault the women. I do not curse women.

Men, though. If you would undo the harm, invoke me. If you would see it all undone, invoke me. Acorns make fertile soil.


Main source: Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, by James MacKillop.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Goddess of the Week

This week's pick is again Idun, Who showed up just about two months ago here. She is the Norse Goddess of Youth and Springtime, Who grows, keeps, and metes out the apples that keep the Gods young.

Last time for whatever reason She was coming across to me in a sort of Winter aspect, oddly enough given that it was the middle of summer where I am; perhaps it was something to do with the legends that tell of a possible descent to Niflheim or the Underworld, much like how Persephone's descent in the Greek legend brought on the winter season. Now, however, I am inclined to interpret this card as one of obvious harvest, and a continuation of that theme from last week's card, that of the Roman Grain-Goddess Ceres. Though it isn't apple-picking season here, and won't be for another couple of months, there are other harvests going on right now, such as that of the vegetable garden.

This card, then, is about the ongoing work of harvest, and being in the midst of a time of abundance. This can be quite literally of the garden variety (let me tell you about tomatoes), or the fulfillment of another creative project. The important thing to remember is that it is really still only just getting under way. It will still require effort and maintenance on your part, but if you tend and harvest your projects carefully the results should last you quite some time. Perhaps the metaphor here is that of canning summer's bounty to put up for the coming winter and lean times.

What does Idun say to us this week?

Yes, harvest and hoard. Be careful, let nothing be wasted. If there is a spot on the tomato cut it out, then chop it to can with the rest. Be accepting, and do not unreasonably expect perfection, for much good, much abundance, much nourishment, will be missed. I'm not saying the times ahead are dire, or at least that they are not any more dire than any winter is, just not to discard things of value if they are not quite exactly perfect. Cast a wide net at this time. There will be need of all of this harvest later.

Also, never forget to save your seeds.

What do you think? What is your harvest right now?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Play-Along Reading

I thought it might be fun to try some join-in practice readings. By which I mean, I'll pick some cards from my Goddess Oracle Deck, and then folks who want to can try their hand at interpreting them in comments. The readings can be as simple as you like (or as elaborate as you like if you tend that way).

Here, I'll start. Reading these three as past-present-future:

You are coming out of a time of trial, one in which you know you have been in the right, but you have not been able to do much about it except to have patience with circumstances. You are now being vindicated. However, this will lead you to a choice, a crossroads; and keep in mind there are more than just two possibilities before you. The future may be a little stormy, but if you can weather it, bright blessings are promised.

Anyone like to give it a try? You can read them any way you like, as self, other, and the relationship between, as (one of my favorites) Maiden, Mother, Crone, or whatever speaks to you.